To listen to the words of either the Biden administration or NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg one could easily think that Sweden’s accession into NATO is a ‘done deal’. Sweden itself is saying there is “strong support” for Sweden’s membership going into the July 11-12 major annual summit of NATO heads of state in Vilnius, Lithuania.
But as Al Jazeera highlights in a fresh report, there’s only one voice that matters at this point – the one holding onto the veto: “Western officials had hoped Erdogan would soften his position on the diplomatically charged issue after he secured a hard-fought re-election last month.” It remains that Erdogan has signaled no change of heart on the issue, even after Stockholm has taken pains to bow to Ankara’s demands.
“Sweden has expectations. It doesn’t mean that we will comply with them,” Erdogan said this week amid high level talks between Turkish and Swedish officials in Ankara.
Sweden’s chief negotiator, Oscar Stenstrom, also confirmed in a Wednesday statement that there’s been no breakthroughs.
“It’s my job to persuade our counterpart that we have done enough. I think we have,” Stenstrom said. “But Turkey is not ready to make a decision yet and thinks that they need to have more answers to the questions they have.”
But here was President Joe Biden a mere few weeks ago:
US President Joe Biden has said he is confident that Sweden will join NATO “as soon as possible”, despite Turkey and Hungary continuing to block the northern European country’s accession to the alliance.
Speaking at a United States Air Force Academy graduation ceremony on Thursday, Biden praised NATO’s unity amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
He “promises” it will happen… “NATO is more energised and more united than it’s been in decades. It’s now even stronger with the accession of our newest ally, Finland – and soon Sweden – to the alliance, as soon as possible. It will happen. I promise you,” he had said.
Stockholm has lately begun to implement some of the Erdogan government’s desires, and notably the following:
Incidentally, the Swedish government decided on Monday to extradite a PKK supporter to Turkey. The man was convicted of drug offences in Turkey in 2013, but after serving less than six months of his sentence, he was released on parole, left Turkey legally and later moved to Sweden, where he obtained a work permit.
According to the Swedish media, the 35-year-old man argued that the extradition request to serve a sentence for drug offences is a pretext and that the “real reason” for his extradition request is that he is a Kurd, has actively promoted the Kurdish cause, and supports the YPG and the PKK.
But clearly, as many predicted, Erdogan is intent on squeezing everything he can out of both Sweden and the Western allies before giving the final approval – this looks to include F-16s from Washington as well.